"A Versatile Legal Administrator and More: The Career of John of Fressingfield in England, Ireland, and Beyond"

Michigan Law Authors
Areas of Interest
Publish Date
Ireland and the English World in the Late Middle Ages
Publication Type
Book Chapter

John of Fressingfield had a long and a varied career. That career began in England some time before 1290; took him to Ireland in 1295, where he lived for 12 years; brought him back to live in England in 1307, but then took him off on official journeys to the Channel Islands in the summer of 1309 as well as to Avignon and to Gascony in 1309 and 1310. It seems to have ended shortly after his capture in south Wales as one of the supporters of Hugh Despenser the younger and subsequent ransom in 1321. It encompassed clerical service as a clerk of the Common Bench at Westminster between 1289 and 1291, as a senior clerk of the ‘northern’ eyre circuit led by Hugh of Cressingham between 1292 and 1294, as keeper of the rolls and writs of the Dublin Bench between 1296 and 1298 and as chief clerk of the justiciar, John Wogan, in 1299. Closely connected with this was his judicial career: initially in Ireland as a temporary replacement justice in the justiciar’s court in 1302–1303 and 1305–1306 as well as in the Tipperary eyre of 1305–1307; then as chief justice of the Channel Islands eyre held in the summer of 1309; finally as a judicial commissioner appointed to various special and general commissions in England between 1311 and 1317. He also had a brief military career: in charge of the castles of Roscommon, Rindown and Athlone in 1299–1300, leader of an Irish contingent to Scotland in the service of Edward I in 1301–1302, and presumably with Hugh Despenser the younger at the end of his life.

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